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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

May 26-
    I seem to be on this every 6 day roll with updating journals and it is not even on purpose.  It just seems that after about 6 days I finally have some stuff to talk about and find some time to sit down and write.  Things have actually been pretty busy up here in the past week or so.  Saturday was nice enough for a boat ride, so we dropped her in the water and went for a cruise.  We also brought some fishing gear and tried our luck, but it was the middle of the day and we did not really know what we were doing too much and did not even get a bite.  I do have plans to hook up with a charter service up here and get some education on things and I am sure the results will be different.  It will take some time, but we will be able to post some fish shots one of these days!  Even though we did not catch anything it was still fun to be out on the boat and fishing.  The hounds did not mind just sitting in the boat while we fished, but Burt did "fall overboard" one time.  I put that in quotes because I seriously doubt that he just wanted to go for a swim, but made it look like an accident just so I would not be mad if I did not want him to swim.  I really did not care one way or the other and after swimming around a bit I pulled him back into the boat.  Quite the scammer he is.
    After the fishing excursion we decided to go for a ride and headed down the cuts towards the lower entry.  We did not go all the way to the lower entry, that would actually be about a 15 mile journey one way.  We did go as far as Dreamland and then headed back north to Lake Linden.  The boat ran pretty good and the bimini top worked great.  We will be getting a lot of usage out of that thing this summer.
    On Monday some more work started at the property.  I actually did not know that they had started on Monday, but that was fine, I knew they were going to start sometime this week.  Anyway, I got a call from the contractor that they were out there working and Tuesday after work I headed up there take a look at things.  It's amazing how much work can get done when you are working with heavy equipment.  There was probably about 20 good sized trees they needed to take down, haul off to a staging area and then pull the stumps.  The cutting is something that Nora and I could have handled, but the contractor said he would do it as part of the bid, so we jumped on that.  The stumps were the main concern of mine, but with the machinery they had out there they just loaded into the bucket and then off to the dump truck.  I was having a fun time watching the action and could have stayed there all afternoon, but I did not want to be in the way or make the contractor think I did not trust them, so we did head back to the house after a while.
    But, we now have a fully functional driveway, a clearing for the guest home, a clearing for the post barn and some of the area for the log home has also been cleared.  Here is Nora and the hounds posing in what will be the living room of the log home.  There is still some work left to be done for Nora and I.  All the trees that were cut down still need to be cut to length and stacked, but that actually should not take too long.  Having all the trees stacked so neatly and with two sharp saw blades I think we can get that done in a couple of hours.  I think we will also plant some grass seed where the log home will be built as that area will not be disturbed again for a couple of years.
    Yesterday we had the septic evaluation done and that turned out fine.  A bit of fill will be needed, but not a ton, not enough to even change the cost of installation much, so I am thankful for that.  The next task in line as far as building goes will be to get a bid on running electric out to the build spot.  I did have an estimate made before I even bought the property, but I am sure that the price has changed and I am also sure it has changed in the wrong direction as far as I am concerned.  I do want to get the electrical done soon because the price of that will only go one way. I know they regulate the actual cost of electrical power, but I am not sure if they regulate the price of installation, because that has really gone through the roof.  Not more than about 10 years ago I hear it was almost free to have electrical service brought in, but just 3 years ago the estimate I got was a little more than 4,000 dollars to run it about 800 feet from the nearest source to the build spot.  Now I am not expert, but I would guess that the materials are not more than 1000 dollars and it would take a crew of 4 about a day or so to run the line, so somebody is making a nice little profit!  There is water at the road and I have heard that does not cost much.
    So hopefully by the end of the build season this year we can have the utilities out there and maybe the slabs for the post barn and guest home in and then can get on to building structures next build season.  I am still not in a big rush, but if there are no surprises in the next 18 months then we could very well be living up there in the autumn of 2006.  Then we sell the Lake Linden home and get going on the log home.  One of Nora's friends had a great idea to help with the log home.  We can offer friends of the site the opportunity to sponsor a log.  Actually I say that in jest really, but I suppose if someone felt so compelled that Nora and I would not be opposed to the action!  It is really amazing to have all of this happening.  As you can see in the one picture of me up at the property this week, I had the video camera in hand.  This really is one of the final stages of accomplishing my life's dream and not only do I want to enjoy and savor every step along the way, but also record all the steps so that we can look back and say "Remember When...".
    Well, I guess that gets you caught up in things for now.  I am really looking forward to a long weekend.  We have some work to do, but I also plan to have some fun.  The weather looks to cooperate for the most part, at least better than last year when it rained much of the weekend and we had temps in the 40's and 50's.  I hope you all have a great and safe holiday weekend!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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May 20-
    Well, almost another week and I guess it is time to write another journal.  Unfortunately this will probably be more of a ramble than anything as I really do not have much to talk about.  The weather continued to provide problems with much outdoor activity and I have also been busy with some small projects as well as with my regular work duties.  Today we finally had a nice day, with temps reaching into the 70's and quite a bit of sunshine.  I went up to the golf course to hit out some balls at the practice range this afternoon and actually broke a little sweat doing it.  Not much of a breeze, temps in the 70's and lots of sun made it pretty warm for this old guy.  My comfort range when the sun is shining is about 65-68, although I can tolerate the low 70's, especially if there is a breeze.  It would have been a perfect day to take the boat out, but Nora had to work late and I did not feel like trying to launch the boat and do all of that by myself.  Looks like the weather will hold through most of tomorrow, so I am sure that we will be going out.  We did get the bimini top on earlier in the week, I also added some fishing pole holders to store them when not in use so the boat is officially all set to go now.  No more work is required or planned for the foreseeable future.  I have enough boating experience to know that you never stop working on a boat for very long, but at least the planned projects are done!
    I see I forgot to wish myself a happy 6 year anniversary in the last entry.  Yep, it was 6 years ago on May 14th that the hounds and I moved up here and changed our lives dramatically.  I will never forget many of the details of that day, including driving the big moving truck with Baileys keeping me company and Burt and my Dad following us in the chase car.  I will also likely never forget waking up the first morning up here, opening the door to let the hounds out to go potty and smelling the fresh pine scented air.  That was one of the smells of vacation and I could actually not believe that it was no longer going to be restricted to vacations, it would be an everyday experience.  I even remember going to bed with the windows open smelling that scent.  The property has a bunch of baltic fir where the driveway is and the scent up here is really incredible.
    Anyway, it still seems more like a dream to me that I am actually living up here.  Almost like I do not want to be pinched for fear of waking up!  I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to have found a place that I love so much.  I really cannot thing of one thing that I do not like about it, well...maybe the blackflys!  Plus it just felt like home the very first time I ever visited.  I have been fortunate to visit lots of neat places in our country and a few others and of course when you are on vacation having fun those places always seem appealing to live in, but might lose some of their appeal if you had to work and bring all of the negative aspects of regular live to them.  However, I knew that this place would not lose it's appeal to me and if anything it has gotten only better.  And it is not just being able to go to the big lake and watch a sunset, or take a hike in the woods and be the only one around for miles, or to climb one of the hills and look out into the undeveloped wilderness for as far as the eye can see.  Nope, it is even going to the store or the bank or post office.  I am greeted in all of these places by super nice folks who are genuinely happy to see me and interested to know how things are doing.  I have no doubt that this website and my work on the radio has helped me to become known to the local population a lot quicker than if I were not doing all of those things, but that does not change how great folks are up here.
    So 6 years and 6 days ago I took a huge step towards living my dream life.  7 months and 11 days ago I took another step when I married my beautiful wife and in 5 days the process in the final stage will move ahead a little bit more when the driveway and build site will be put in up at the property.  My life's dream was to be able to have a home in the woods up here and live in it with my family.  Of course if something were to happen that prevented us from moving up to the property I would still be an extremely happy man and still consider myself to be very lucky, but we can still have dreams right?  I guess the main question is once we are living up there and have the construction done what will be the next goal?  I suppose maybe living in a semi retirement mode.  I can't see myself ever fully retiring, but maybe not having to get up at 4:30 every morning to make a buck will be nice.  Maybe doing something like building custom furniture and running the website would be nice.  Perhaps throw in some back country snowmobile tours in the winter and some back country ATV and fishing tours in the summer.
    Back to the real world, I fear that this season's black fly crop is going to be huge.  I was watching the local (Marquette) news and they were doing a story that took place in the woods and one of the persons being interviewed was being just swarmed while trying to talk.  I cannot believe he was able to keep his composure as you saw those little nastiness flying around his head, landing on his neck and inside his ears.  I suppose that they are one of God's creatures and have their purpose on the planet, but I still have a hard time sharing my space on this planet with them!  The mosquitos do not bother me as much, especially since they are no too bad during the day.  The good thing is the blackflys do tend to taper off once we get to the 4th of July.
    Nora and I did get a lot of yard work done this past week.  I added some lime and fertilizer to the garden and tilled it in.  The rabbits feasted on the strawberries last year, so this year I have enclosed the beds with the strawberries inside some wire fencing.  We also got the grass fertilized and the raspberry bushes re-staked.  So all that is left to do is for Nora to plant her vegetable garden and put the wire fencing around it.  Then let the plants to their thing and in about a month we will be picking strawberries and a few weeks after that the raspberries and blueberries will be ready and Nora's veggies will be producing too, although I am not a vegetable person.
    Well, I have actually wrote more than I thought I would, but have run out of things to say.  No pics this time around either, but hopefully that will change for the next time.  I do not have as many chores to do anymore, so hopefully that means more playing!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
May 14-
    I really cannot believe it has been almost a week since I last wrote, but sure enough it was last Sunday and here it is Saturday already.  I guess I have been busy and having fun, both of which will make time fly.  Monday it was warm up here and I cut the grass for the first time this season and got out for my first round of golf for the season.  Things did not go too bad.  I made par on the first hole, a bogy on the next 3 and par on the 5th (a feat for me) so I was only 3 over after 5 holes.  Then things started to go a little off track, but not disasterly.  I think I finished with about a 45 or so, which is pretty much my average for nine holes.  My swing still has lots of rust on it and I few trips to the driving range will be needed before the league starts.  It was weird, on about the 3rd hole as I was lining up a put, it was like I had been playing golf all along and not taken the past 7 months off.
    A cold front moved through just as we were finishing up the round of golf Monday.  In fact, as I was setting up for my last putt, the winds picked up and skies darkened and about 10 minutes later as I was heading home the first few rain drops were hitting the windshield.  It rained most of Monday night and we have been in weather more fit for November than May ever since.  I had a feeling when we had all that warm weather in early April that old Mother Nature would balance things out and send some more cold air our way.  In fact after hitting the low 80's at my house Monday it snowed Wednesday and could snow again tonight and tomorrow.  Thursday morning's low was 20 degrees at my house and 14 degrees at Amasa.
    In addition to the cold air we have had quite a bit of rain in the past week as well.  So much so that the outdoor activity has been curtailed for much of the past week.  On Monday we did take to the woods for a walk on the tracks.  The trees were just starting to bust their buds on Monday and had the weather been warmer the past few days I would suspect that the forest would be pretty green, but as it is things do not look that much different than they did on Monday, still lots of bare trees.  However, some of the wildflowers have started to pop their heads up through the forest floor and Nora captured one of them for you all.
    Tuesday afternoon it was chilly but dry so Nora and I headed out to the property to finish the clearing work we started the previous weekend.  We only had a few trees to finish cutting up and stacking as the contractor that will be putting the driveway in and leveling the building site will also be cutting down the remaining trees, stacking them and then pulling and hauling the stumps out.  It looks like all that  will  be going done in about 10 days as that is when the septic site evaluation is going to be done and we wanted to coordinate that with the other heavy work so the equipment can do both at one time.  Then I think things will be fairly quiet up there for a month or so to let the black flies go through their life cycle.  On Tuesday they were starting to show their nasty little faces.  No bites, but I did have to swat several of them away and as soon as it gets warmer out they will be swarming.  All the rain lately should probably produce a banner season for those nasty things.  The mosquitos I can handle a little more, they are slower and usually do not swarm, although I do remember going to the property last summer and not lasting too long because the mosquitos were so bad.  Once we are living up there it will be a battle royal.  Nora and I got one of those mosquito magnets for a wedding present from my brother.  It's the primo one that is self powered.  I think one or maybe two more of the powered ones up there will pretty much take care of things.  Plus there will not be as much vegetation for them to hide in so that should help too.  In any case, here is a before shot of where the guest cabin will be and here is the after shot.
    We have not been out on the boat since it's maiden voyage on the 6th.  We did get the bimini top in yesterday and I put it together, but it has been too nasty to try and get it put on the boat today.  Maybe the weather will be a little better to be working outside tomorrow.  If not, I am sure that the weather will become nice enough to work on it some day.  That was the second to last project for the boat.  The last being to add some fishing pole holders.  I plan to make those in the workshop tomorrow and get them put in when I mount the bimini top. Then it will be all play as far as the boat goes.
    Yesterday Nora and I got together with Troy and Cathy from the Lac La Belle Lodge and went to dinner at the Parkview in Twin Lakes.  The motel part was finished this past winter and the restaurant was finished about a month or so ago.  I had never been inside the motel or restaurant before and we met up with the owners and they gave us a tour.  It is a really nice place and it seems like they have really set the place up for the unique needs of snowmobilers.  The owners are snowmobilers themselves and decided to give up their jobs, sell their homes and move from the Detroit area to the UP to follow their dreams with this business.  The bar is huge and was really something and I can see it being packed wall to wall during snowmobile season.  It was also nice to get out with Troy and Cathy.  Nora and I do get out with each other several times a month, but to be out with others is actually a pretty rare occasion and a special treat.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one.  Seems like I should have more to say, but we have been spending a lot of the past few days inside watching it rain or snow.  I suppose if temps were about 5 degrees colder and my sled was put back together I could have had some riding shots for you.  Before I leave, I can report that the Laurium Glacier is on it's last legs, but has been hanging tough since Monday.  If it had been warm Tuesday, it would have been gone, but with the cool weather it really is putting up a fight.  If it is not gone by tomorrow, then Monday for sure.  Will keep you all posted.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
May 8-
    Happy Mothers Day Mom and also to all the other mothers out there.  I hope everyone's day was great and all moms were spoiled like they spoil us.  We had a pretty quiet day today.  Nora went with her aunts and grandmother to brunch at Lac La Belle, while I stayed home, did my Sunday work and took a walk with the hounds in between rain showers.  Yep, we got some rains overnight and again today.  The first real rain in quite some time.  There were even some thunderstorms in the pre-dawn hours this morning.  Looks like a lot more rain in the next 2 days too.  That is good as we need it.  Things were dry and I was actually amazed that we did not have more brush fires up here than we did this spring.  The snow left in a hurry and then things were dry.  Thankfully I think most folks up here are pretty careful when we get really dry conditions and thus we escape disaster.  I do plan to have a buffer zone of grass between the house and the brush of the woods when we are up at the property.  That way if we get a fire it will hit the green grass (will be watered) and die off.  We usually get brush fires up here, not the full blown forest fires that "crown" or burn across the upper reaches of the trees like they have out west.  The main reason is the crowns of the trees up here do not contain much vegetation that can burn.  It is either green leafs or bare branches.  So all I really need to be concerned about is keeping the ground cover from being able to burn up to the structures at the property.
    History was made up here on Friday.  We finally took the boat out as a family.  The winds were light enough, temps were warm enough and so all conditions were go.  I was looking forward to seeing how the dogs did in the boat.  They have been in boats before, but it's been about 7 or 8 years and the boat was quite a bit bigger than our little 16 footer.  It was a bit of a job to get them into the boat.  They were not too sure about dropping off the dock into the boat which actually sat lower than the dock, so I helped them into the boat.  Once in they were a bit concerned about the rocking motion and then I think I made things a little worse by going pretty fast right away, rather than letting them get use to the environment first.  I did slow the boat down and they seemed to stop shaking a bit.
    Nora was a little nervous too.  It was her maiden voyage as well as the boat's first outing for the season.  Add to that the fact that the water temp was around 45 degrees and we were the only ones out there.  I guess you could say that I was also hoping nothing serious went down.  By the way I think we came up with a name for the boat.  Nora actually did while talking on the phone with a friend.  When asked what the name of the boat was she said: "We don't have a name, we're just happy it floats!".  The person she was talking to did not hear the "we don't have a name" part and thought that the rest was great.  So by accident, the boat was named "Just Happy it Floats!"
    Anyway, it was nice to be out on the boat.  You sure get a different perspective of things.  Here is a shot of Lake Linden from the Torch Lake.  Here is a shot of some of the homes along the east shore.  Baileys was getting a little bored, so she came up to the pilot house and asked me to make it go faster.  Burt was playing it cool by hanging out on the main deck.  After a while I let Nora pilot the boat, while Burt and I took off to the stern to catch some rays.  Burt really seemed to enjoy riding in the back, in fact at first I thought he was going to abandon ship, but he just liked to ride with his front paws hanging over the side.  It was really neat to see him so content while riding in the boat.  They have learned a new word and tails now wag when we say "motor boat".  We made it back safe and sound and then headed out to dinner.  While at dinner at the Dreamland, Nora and I decided that the next time we go to dinner there, we will go by boat.
    On Saturday we headed up to the property to do some work.  There are some trees that need to come down so that they can put the driveway in, so Nora the lumberjack and I headed up to do some cutting.  Things went pretty good until the chain on the chainsaw went dull and the spare was already dull.  So we packed it in after getting most of the cutting for the driveway done.  I will get both chains sharpened tomorrow and with it staying light until nearly 9:30 at night we should be able to get the rest of the driveway cutting done this week.  Then the driveway can go in, but before that I would like to get the spots for the guest house and pole barn cleared, that way the heavy equipment that is out there putting in the driveway can also take care of the stumps and level out the building pads for the guest house and pole barn.  Things are definitely starting to happen out there though.
    I almost played golf Saturday, but decided to put fenders on the boat trailer instead.  They went in pretty smoothly and now the only thing left to complete the whole boat package is the bimini top.  That has been ordered and should not be too hard to install once it arrives.  There was still some time left in the afternoon once I got the fenders on the trailer, so Nora, the hounds and I went on a little adventure.  We started out on a normal walk, but then too a detour that took us to the Trap Rock River, where we hooked up with the snowmobile trail and followed it for a while.  After that we went over to check out an old beaver dam on the Hammell Creek that was actually pretty new when I first moved up here, but 6 seasons worth of spring flooding pretty much took out all of it and the only thing left is a small pool of water just upstream from where the dam used to be.  A little further upstream we came across a log that was stretched across the creek and I dared Nora to go out on it so I could take a picture and the little dare devil actually did it!  The hounds had fun exploring and it was kind of like when we first moved up here and would go exploring a couple of times a week.  I think we need to do more of that again, it's a lot of fun and good exercise.
    Well, the trees are starting to open their buds and soon all will be green up here.  The rains in the next few days will help with that too, but mostly the warmer temps.  Soon you will not be able to see more than 3 feet into the woods and the insects will be out for blood.  Sounds like we need to get into the woods while the getting is still good!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
May 3-
    Well, even though it's May it sure hasn't felt like it the last few days. We have had a spell of cool weather and even some snow on Monday. It snowed off and on most of the day and felt more like a November day than May! The sun has been out for most of the day today and we won't need to wait too many more days before the temps will rise. Looks like we will reach the 50's by tomorrow and the 60's by the end of the week. Nora and I have even toyed with the idea of taking the boat for a cruise on Thursday.
     We were able to keep busy this past week and weekend by catching up on some chores around the house and property. Saturday morning we got up and headed out to the property to do some work. I had picked up some pallets and we had planned to get some of the wood we stacked last fall off the ground. It seemed like a great idea until we realized that by the time all was said and done we would have moved our "wood pile" 4 times. We agreed that we wouldn't move the wood until we could move it to it's permanent home, closer to where the house will be. But, since we were already out there we thought it would be wise not to waste the drive and started to work on something else. I fired up the chainsaw and cut up some downed trees while Nora filled some holes with dirt that had been piled up from the excavator. It won't be long and we won't be able to work without being attacked by bugs so we were glad we took advantage of getting some work completed. It sure is exciting to think that one day our home will sit on that land. We have alot of work ahead of us but are both up for the challenge!
     After we finished up our work on the property I ran into a friend of mine and made arrangements to borrow his tiler. Nora and I had been thinking about how we wanted the gardens laid out this year. After a little thinking we decided that we would take out the middle grass section between the two main smaller gardens. It will not only give Nora some extra room in her garden but will be nice to not have to cut the grass in between the two beds. Plus, we needed to edge the beds and that meant two less sides to edge! I've added some compost to the garden and hopefully that will help with the clay problem we have had in the past. Won't be long and there will be fresh vegetables to harvest!
     I've also got the boat ready for the season. The seats were already taken care of and this past weekend I put in the fishfinder.  I was actually in the doghouse about that purchase for awhile! Well, not really but Nora did ask me to not make any such purchases until after my birthday. It seems that I have a way of purchasing her intended gifts. I thought it had only happened once before but we started to laugh about it and realized that I have spoiled every birthday present since we meet. And a few Christmas presents! Well, anyhow it is installed and ready to go.  One other thing that needed to be fixed was the tilt on the motor. I was able to get that down to Al's today and that is now fixed also. So now she is officially all ready to go and we patiently wait for the nice weather to come our way.
     I'm sorry that there aren't any pictures for tonight's journal. But, I will promise that the first journal after the launch of the boat will have some pictures. Guess that about covers it for another one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
 
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